Woodward, Okla. —
The Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council (NWOLC) is currently accepting applications from individuals and businesses interested in becoming literacy council members.
NWOLC Program Coordinator Jan Case-Wills said, "According to the latest Census nearly 24 percent of people within Woodward City limits do not have high school diplomas. That's ridiculously high."
Case-Wills believes part of the reason behind this rate has to due with the availability of jobs in Woodward, making the area tantalizing to those without high school diplomas.
"Because our economy is thriving so much in Northwest Oklahoma if you want a job, you can find work," she said.
While this may be beneficial to certain industries that don't require employees to have a high school diploma, it can sometimes make it difficult for businesses that do require a diploma to fill positions.
Case-Wills said immigrants may also contribute to the low high school diploma attainment rate as they grow up in areas where they are unable to attend school, then move to Woodward for work or other various reasons.
The Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council is working to reduce the number of people without high school diplomas by offering programs to help persons attain their GEDs as well as providing assistance with building basic literacy skills and courses in English as a Second Language.
"Some people just need assistance or training. If we could just communicate, we could pull a lot of people out of indigent status, because there's jobs out there, and they're interested, they just don't speak or read the language," Case-Wills said.
However, in order to offer its tutoring programs, the literacy council needs help from the community.
The easiest way to help is by becoming members of NWOLC and showing your support for its efforts to combat illiteracy.
"Your membership dues and donations purchase curriculum, evaluation assessments, and instructional classes to those in need of serves," Case-Wills said.
She went on to describe the current curriculum and how donations will be used to improve it.
"Because of financial constraints, our curriculum is currently outdated," she said. "We still use VHS tapes, it's ridiculous. We have to use dry erase boards because we can't afford paper. With donations we're hoping to be able to invest in Spanish to English dictionaries, picture dictionaries, and workbooks."
When asked why people should contribute to NWOLC, Case-Wills said, "While there are other very needed and worthwhile nonprofit organizations out there, other organizations tend to help a select few, while the NWOLC impacts the entire community. If everyone within the Woodward city limits could read and speak English, it would impact doctors' offices, businesses looking for employees, not to mention every single school."
Case-Wills went on to list the benefits of becoming a NWOLC member.
"Members will receive quarterly newsletters every year. We're considering including a section dedicated to showing how members' donations are helping the lives of individual students. Also members will be invited to our annual NWOLC banquet," she said.
Case-Wills encourages people interested in becoming members to come by the library and see the NWOLC facilities between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Those interested in more information about the organization can visit the group's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NWOKLC or contact Jan Case-Wills by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (580) 254-8582.